At the time of writing, it is still the 8th of March, which is International Women’s Day. We could discuss the fact that we even need to have such a day. For this article, however, let’s just agree that the state of affairs in 2018 is such that somehow we do need this day. Whilst there is much to be criticised and discussed, I am therefore choosing instead to celebrate what there is to be celebrated today. Sometimes, being proud of what you have achieved acts as a guide for what to achieve next.
My various social media accounts were flooded with posts about International Women’s Day today, and every single one made me smile. The title of this article, though, refers to my inspiration to write this piece: my teammates and, more generally, my fellow female footballers.
For those who are unsure, an appreciation post on social media states the reasons why you are grateful for someone or something. This article is an appreciation post for the incredible women who line up beside me on the football pitch, because they embody what there is to be celebrated on March 8th.
Today, there has been a lot of discussion about what the day means to my team. It made me proud to be a member of the squad. To be a woman and play football in New Zealand is not an easy path. Most players start at a young age and as such, are exposed to sexist comments and prejudice very early. We learn that we should play ‘like a boy’, because “you play like a girl” is a criticism. Female footballers deal with constant assumptions about who and how we are, flippant comments about technical ability, and continuously defy all of it.
The point here is not to speak to our collective greatness, nor to elicit pity. Instead, I say these things because they’re true, and because they shaped each and every member of my team, and almost all female footballers, into women who are perfect ambassadors for what International Women’s Day represents. The day intends to celebrate strength in the face of continued oppression. It recognises that women are united by the struggles we face but that we can be, and are, multi-faceted. These ideas reflect perfectly in my team.
In front of, behind and beside me in the endless (but, yes, useful) FIFA 11s are current and future Ferns-and doctors, nurses, physios, teachers, lawyers, coaches and managers. We are musicians. We are academics. We are compassionate friends and daughters-and we are footballers.
The thing is, we want to win and to do so, we know that we have no option but to completely support one another. This is something to be celebrated today, because this support amongst women is key to gaining equality. As Margaret Atwood put it, to “see a war among women, as opposed to on women, is always pleasing to those who do not wish women well”. Football teams constitute unflinching allies, as do the amazing coaches that support us. We all want each other to succeed, and it is because of this, and because of the fundamental human characteristics my teammates possess, that I know we will succeed.
My ultimate point is that female footballers are good examples of the values of International Women’s Day. We know what it is to have to earn respect and to have to rely on each other when we are undervalued. Most of all, female footballers support one another and that is such an important practice for women everywhere. I hope that one day we won’t celebrate Women’s Day because it will be implicit in every day, but until then I’m glad I know these women who give me something to be proud of on March 8th.
If you want to see these amazing women play some football, come along to the NRFL games on Sundays. You won’t regret it.
Categories: Women's kōrero
A lover of the game since the age of 4. Living and playing for club and school in Auckland and loving every second on the pitch (apart from the end of a losing match).